Cranberry farm adds 460 acres to park

Ben Ruset

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I bet Jeff would have some witty comment about this.

http://www.app.com/app2001/story/0,21133,828021,00.html

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Cranberry farm adds 460 acres to park



Published in the Asbury Park Press 10/10/03
By KIRK MOORE
STAFF WRITER
BERKELEY -- The state Green Acres program is spending $1.15 million to acquire 460 acres of the Jeffrey's Branch cranberry farm, one of the last two major cranberry operations the Lipman family runs in Ocean County.

The farm -- where state parks officials and conservationists gathered yesterday to announce the deal -- will be added to Double Trouble State Park.

A lease-back agreement will allow Jeffrey and Ned Lipman to continue working 50 acres of bogs that their late father, Edward Lipman Sr., purchased here 53 years ago. Continued harvests will let visitors to Double Trouble see how cranberries are grown, said park Superintendent Mark Pitchell.

Ned Lipman said he has other ideas, too, for the partnership.

"What I'd really like to do is set up a 'U-pick' (harvest by visitors) at Double Trouble," Lipman said. He saw an overwhelming response when the brothers opened their bogs to the public for all-you-can-gather events in recent years.

"What we proved here is there's a huge interest in picking your own cranberries," Lipman said.

But like the fruit itself, the Lipmans' decision to sell was bittersweet, he said. Like all cranberry growers, they contended with a late 1990s crash in cranberry prices that only now are starting to creep back toward profitable levels.

"I'm ambivalent," Lipman admitted, gazing across acres of green berry vines now turning scarlet with the autumn. "It's like giving up your firstborn. But I think this is what my father would have wanted."

Michael Catania, chairman of the Coalition for Conservation, said the Lipman farm purchase shows what can be done with state and local open-space preservation programs -- and shows why voters should approve Public Question 1 on the November ballot, which would raise the ceiling on the state open-space bond fund by $150 million.

The coalition of environmental and open-space groups wants voters to approve increasing the fund from $1 billion to $1.15 billion. While some fiscal conservatives have questioned increasing bonded indebtedness to buy public land, Catania said the ballot question represents a good value for taxpayers.

"That extra $150 million would do a lot more projects like this," he said yesterday at a news conference the coalition held on the farm. "If we don't take advantage of these opportunities now, they'll be lost forever."

Lower interest rates mean the bond ceiling can be lifted without increasing the annual $98 million open-space appropriation approved by voters in 1998, Catania added.

"The money would be used for community parks, the (northwestern New Jersey) Highlands and the Pinelands," Catania said. Open-space funding became a political issue in the waning days of the Whitman administration, but Catania said he thinks that is defused.

"I hope so. This coalition is formed of people from rural areas, urban areas. This is too important to play politics," he said.

The Jeffrey's Branch farm -- which Edward Lipman Sr. named for his son -- draws its water from the Jake's Branch of the Toms River. As with all cranberry farms, the woods and wetlands that supply water for the crop cover much more ground than the bogs themselves, including large stands of Atlantic white cedar.

The forest harbors rare and endangered species, including northern pine snakes, bald eagles, and bar-winged and golden-winged skimmers, two rare dragonfly species of the Pinelands, said state Green Acres Administrator John S. Watson Jr.

Double Trouble State Park has grown dramatically over the years, with the addition of about 3,200 acres in western Berkeley, donated by developer Leisure Technology in a deal brokered by the nonprofit Nature Conservancy. Like the rest of Double Trouble's lands, the farm area will be open to the public under park rules.

"We're going to start posting (signs on) this land, and get one central point of access," park Superintendent Pitchell said. Park rangers will patrol the area, he said.

The farm is on Route 530 on the South Toms River line, a little more than a mile north of the restored Double Trouble village on Pinewald-Keswick Road.

As the officials spoke, three juveniles on all-terrain vehicles, which are generally forbidden on state lands, rounded a clump of pine trees and headed down the road. They stopped short at the incongruous sight of a crowd -- people were sitting on metal folding chairs in the middle of the farm -- and hurriedly turned their vehicles to speed away.

"I can see enforcement will be an issue out here," Pitchell said dryly.

Most of the time, Ned Lipman said, it's as quiet and beautiful on the farm as the day his father found it in 1951. The family has another farm in Lakehurst.

"This was his place to chill out, for his whole life," Lipman said of his father, who helped organize New Jersey growers in the Ocean Spray cooperative.

The Lipmans -- who are awaiting details of the Double Trouble lease from state officials -- harvested these bogs early, taking light-colored fruit for Ocean Spray's line of clear juice drinks.

"The biggest crop ever . . . 556,000 pounds, about 5,600 barrels, 140 barrels to the acre," Lipman said. After several drought years, this summer was particularly favorable for budding and fruiting on the vines, he said, adding, "I believe Dad was looking down on us this year."

Kirk Moore: (732) 557-5728
 
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bach2yoga

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I'm sure he would!
I think it's a great idea--I'd love to go do u-pick cranberries!!!
Renee
 

Ben Ruset

Administrator
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Oct 12, 2004
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Asbury Park, NJ
But you have to be a card carrying member of the Walt Disney School of Environmentalism before they let you in the bog... :jump: :roll: :bear:
 

JIMBO

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Mar 31, 2003
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Nugentown NJ
Me and my son went cranberry picking Tuesday afternoon they are hard to get to without a scoop it took about 10 min. to fill my hat.
 
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bach2yoga

Guest
bruset said:
But you have to be a card carrying member of the Walt Disney School of Environmentalism before they let you in the bog... :jump: :roll: :bear:
No fake IDs allowed! :lol:
Mine has a picture of Pocahontas on it, and if you stick it in the admissions key it plays Colors of the Wind.
Renee